Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Vogue Zombies

She never ate me
wasn't visibly rotting
but other than that

was quite zombie-like.
Although she would sometimes talk.
If we interpret

torn skin, eating flesh
as Hollywood metaphors
then zombies do walk.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Behind-the-scenes stuff:

I noticed—just this morning—that in April
I had one post with the word “zombie” in the title
[The Sun Also Rises And Gets Eaten By Zombies] '
and in May I had two posts with the word “zombie”
in the title [Zombies Are Not The New Vampires
and also Zombie Flowers] but in June
I had no posts with the word “zombie” in the title.

If I hadn’t noticed it I wouldn’t have cared at all
but once I noticed it almost immediately
my brain decided all by itself that I needed to do
a zombie post for today the last day of the quarter
and get in a title that has the word “zombie” in it.

I had no particular plans for what to write today
so my brain—again mostly by itself—just went off
and I believe, consciously looking back after the writing,
built today’s post by touching on three posts
from earlier this quarter.

First of all, this quarter I did a lot of cartoons
I like, but one of my favorites is “In Vogue,”
a watercolor rendering of Kate Moss. So I had Vogue
and beauty stuff on my mind. (And the desire
to do more watercolors next quarter.)

Second, one of my favorite posts from this quarter is
Beautiful Music.” It’s been on my mind a lot
because it is, I think, very nice but
in real life I’m not really a nice guy
although I wish I was nicer than I am.
I wish almost more than anything
I was nice enough to live up to
that post in real life. But I couldn’t.

Third, once I started wishing I was nice
that reminded me of my post
Saying Mean Things
and that brought together
all the elements for today’s poem.

Thinking of certain women I’ve known.
Thinking of a mean post to counter-balance
that nice post (because I get angry at myself
for not being able to live up to that nice post
in real life). And the Dylan thing about being mean
but trying to be mean constructively, being mean
in a way that at least might make some readers smile.

And I believe that’s how I wrote Vogue Zombies.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Jenny, I Got Your Number

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

He was told in no uncertain terms not to see her

The governor of South Carolina is married to
a girl from Winnetka, Illinois.
She went to school in Lake Forest.
Chicago guys could have told the governor
North Shore girls will almost always tell you
and almost always in no uncertain terms
you’re not allowed to visit your mistress.

The governor’s wife might be available soon
so guys all around the world need to brush up
on “Jenny” songs...

Jenny, Jenny
You’re the girl for me
You don’t know me
But you make me so happy
I tried to call you before
But I lost my nerve
I tried my imagination
But I was disturbed

I got your number
I need to make you mine
Don’t change your number


Friday, June 26, 2009

The New Horizons Spacecraft As Julia Adams

I wish I was out there somewhere between Saturn

and Uranus beneath the New Horizons probe

still more than two thousand days away from Pluto

I would be like the creature from the Black Lagoon

unseen but swimming beneath Julia Adams

I’d be a human-shaped monster and the spacecraft

built of silicon and metal and composites

would be a real human woman in a swimsuit

close so close close enough to touch with my clawed hand

and I do reach out and touch the human woman

make the briefest contact for the briefest moment

but we are forever separate distant things

different things somehow in the same universe

somehow close enough to touch then forever gone

I will die in the third chapter of whatever

trilogy grows from our encounter our moment

forever separate different distant things

but the beautiful woman in the white swimsuit

swimming above me swimming without seeing me

somehow close enough to touch and touched and then gone

is a fiction portrayed by an actress at work

with a career and years of living still ahead

Pluto is waiting for the New Horizons probe

my claw reaches out touches Julia Adams

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

New Horizons Wikipedia Page

New Horizons NASA Website

Rock and roll
is desire, fulfillment and loss

Get Well Soon, Marianne Faithfull! #4:
The Twenty-Six Muscles Of The Human Face

P.S. Yes I know Julie Adams now spells
her name with an “ie” and
not with an “ia.” But I grew up
watching the credits of
“The Creature from the Black Lagoon.”
I’ve always seen her name there and
thought of her as “Julia”
the way the film credits her so
for writing this I stayed inside
my subjective reality.
Julie Adams has her own website
as “Julie” so we can all share
her reality there.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Quasi Una Supervillain Fantasia

I’ve already mentioned—Avril, Yes; Beyonce, Christina, No—that if I were an empowered supervillain, if I had the resources for a really cool lair and the funding to take on a gorgeous, wacky young sidekick my first choice for a gorgeous, wacky young sidekick would be Skye Sweetnam. Actually Skye would be my first and second choice and off the top of my head I’m not sure who my third choice would be. Not only is Skye as pretty as pretty can be, but she’s a guitar girl and she has, or appears to have, lots of energy. My gorgeous, wacky young sidekick will have to have lots of energy.

Anyway, I was off somewhere yesterday and I heard a Skye Sweetnam song on the sound system and I thought that was pretty cool because I believe Capital let her go and it’s been a while since there’s been any Skye news so maybe people still remember who she is.

I don’t know how much of her voice is her real voice and how much is better living through signal processing, but from just what I hear she has my favorite voice of all time. Even when she’s singing a song I don’t really like I’m still happy to listen just because of the tone and inflection and character of her singing.

That was the case with the song I heard yesterday. The singing is great. The lyrics are okay. But I don’t really like the song just because of the rhythm arrangement. And not only do I not like the rhythm arrangement, but it brings up the Frankenstein music issue I posted about in Quasi Una Fantasia Again about quantized rhythms.

FWIW, I’m certainly not the only person interested in the way quantized rhythms are re-shaping everything we hear. In one of the most extraordinary blog posts I’ve ever read, Paul Lamere at his blog Music Machinery created software that analyzed music files to check out how much the rhythm track varies as the song progresses. The top chart shows Led Zeppelin playing “Kashmir” [I quoted some of the lyrics to “Kashmir” here] and the bottom chart is Britney’s “One More Time.” The Bonham playing, of course, is much more organic, much more human and—do I really need to say it?—much more fun to listen to!

As much as I like Skye Sweetnam, I strongly suspect a plot of the rhythm variances in “(Let’s Get Moving) Into Action” would be as flat or flatter than the Britney song. And I don’t think that’s a good thing at all. I’d love to hear this same song performed with a drummer and bass player who were just having fun.

The whole song—and it goes on for almost four minutes—to my ears sounds like it’s built on jackass rhythm machine sounds and patterns that almost never change, almost never vary and make you annoyed after about thirty seconds.

There’s a music video of the song on YouTube and it’s pretty silly, too—silly as in you think oh no not this kind of stuff again—but it’s still Skye Sweetnam’s voice so I can struggle through watching it. And I’m going to embed it here so if anyone’s interested they can check out what I’m saying about the rhythm track:

Watching the video yesterday got me thinking more about music without rhythm tracks of any kind. I certainly enjoy playing without a click of any kind, but I can’t really tell what the experience is like for a listener because up until recently I never videotaped myself to get a feel for what it’s like to watch and listen to me.

And once I got started thinking about that quasi una fantasia topic again the next thing I knew I was playing to my webcam again.

This video is me playing two verses of “Blue Velvet.”

I’m kind of conflicted about this song. I love the music for the verses, but I hate the music for the bridge. I like some of the lyrics of the first couple of verses, but I hate most of the late lyrics.

So I resolve my conflicts by not singing at all and by dropping the bridge.

I don’t know if it’s cool to just drop a whole section of a classic song, but it’s my webcam, my guitar, my Tascam GT-R1 doing amp emulation and my blog so I’m going to arrange the song anyway I like. Just the music for the first couple of verses. And the coda.

So here I am, no click and no vocals, on “Blue Velvet.”

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Crazy Girl Update

Yeah, I know, these days that title doesn’t narrow things down much!

But I meant this crazy girl, LeAnn Rimes.

(Squinty-eyed girls—Even when they’re crazy they’re still kind of sexy.)

A couple of weeks back I did a cartoon about her—and I played “Misty” for her!—when her ex-boyfriend’s wife went public and called her a stalker.

The story is still pending apparently. MSNBC reports that In Touch Weekly reports [that’s the mainstream press for you] that LeAnn is about to file for divorce from her allegedly gay husband because she is convinced she can get together with her ex-boyfriend, the guy who allegedly has told her to fuck-off and whose wife has gone public and called her a stalker.

Celebrity romance!

LeAnn’s “people” deny she is about to file for divorce.

My money is on seeing LeAnn in court soon. Either for a divorce action or for something involving cutlery and Bernard Herrmann music.


LeAnn currently is on the cover of Shape magazine [?!] with a couple of other fringe women and surfing around this morning I saw an interesting quote from one of the other women on the cover with LeAnn:

“I’ve gotten some really mean e-mails from fans telling me they think I’ve changed, that I’m not the sweet, innocent Julianne I used to be. My cure for that is to tell myself I’m awesome, I’m confident, and I totally believe in myself!

[laughs] There you go! That’ll do it! I have to go now and have a talk with myself. I’m awesome but I’ve been having self-doubts about being tubular so I need to do some affirmations.

I’m awesome! I’m confident! And I totally believe I’m tubular!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

She Comes In Colors Everywhere

She comes in colors everywhere
She combs her hair
She’s like a rainbow
Coming colors in the air
She comes in colors

She’s a Rainbow

If you took all the girls I knew when I was single
And brought them all together for one night
I know they’d never match my sweet imagination
Everything looks worse in black and white


The lyrics on There Goes Rhymin’ Simon differed in wording from those on the The Concert in Central Park and Paul Simon’s Concert in the Park, August 15, 1991 albums. The former said, "...everything looks worse in black and white," but the latter said, "...everything looks better in black and white."

Wikipedia entry for Kodachrome

Yesterday Kodak announced they are retiring Kodachrome film. The decision is featured in the New York Times photography blog: Shoptalk: Kodachrome Celebrated, Terminated

Most of my involvement with photography has been with black and white photography and I came to terms with that going away a long time ago. I’m not particularly freaked out to see Kodachrome going away. I spent a while, yesterday, lamenting that film itself is going away, but I’ve pretty much come to terms with that a long time ago, too. I posted about photography most recently in My Autographed Photograph Of Virginia Wade—1 and in My Autographed Photograph Of Virginia Wade—2.

I don’t like to just sit around lamenting, even if there’s something worth lamenting. I’d rather do something with whatever I’m feeling. Make something. Create something—happy or sad or whatever—that didn’t exist before I was moved to feel whatever it was that I felt.

So I decided yesterday to make some pictures. For old time’s sake I decided to make some photographs.

With no particular ideas in mind, I went for a walk looking for any images that might catch my attention. An off-the-cuff photo safari of sorts.

I wasn’t thinking of videos or drawings or images in general. I was just thinking of still photos. More than that, too, I was thinking black and white pictures. That is, I was thinking of values and contrasts and arrangements of that kind of stuff.

I took this picture of a broken tree:

And I took this picture of some flowers next to a building:

I haven’t done any black and white photography for years and years but it was kind of fun to try and remember the kinds of thinking I used to do to create images like this.

The first weird part of my photography adventure yesterday is that I didn’t use any photography equipment.

I took the pictures with my phone. I cropped them and adjusted the images using Microsoft Office’s Picture Manager.

The pictures aren’t as sharp as they could be—I used my phone!—and they’re not exactly textbook examples of the Zone system—I tweaked them with office software, not Photoshop!—but to my eyes they look reasonably cool, they look like reasonably pleasant artifacts from an off-the-cuff afternoon walk.

It’s hard to miss the old days when you can do stuff like this so easily these new days.

The second weird part of my photography adventure yesterday came after I made those two black and white images. I went back to the original source pics from my phone and cropped/tweaked color versions.

Here is the tree pic re-done in color:

And here are the flowers in color:

Even though I spent years and years doing black and white photography, and even though I like the drama and simplicity of black and white images, I like these color versions better.

The whole story of the images changes for me with color added.

For the tree pic I love the diagonal movement of the scattering of green plants from upper left to lower right. That is completely lost in the black and white version.

And the flower pic in color looks to me like a struggle, with the organic flowers and leaves fighting, pushing back, at the stone, cement and bricks.

In the black and white versions I saw the contrasts, saw the value differences and liked the composition, but I never saw the content as dynamically as I did when I looked at the images in color.

She comes in colors everywhere
She combs her hair
She’s like a rainbow
Coming colors in the air
She comes in colors

Photography is cool.

I’m not happy waving goodbye to Kodachrome, but I’m not too sad, either. It was a great product in a different world—a lost world.

But the magic of Kodachrome isn’t going away.

The magic of Kodachrome just has been transmogrified and hidden away in phones and computers and the silicon chips behind modern camera lenses.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Once And Future Mandy Moore

Last week Friday USA Today did a feature piece on Mandy Moore.

I’m just going to pretend that people know who she is. (But I did link to her Wikipedia page.)

Anyway . . .

Last weekend I was going to do a cartoon about Mandy, with her picture, and the caption, “USA Today reports that Mandy Moore helped select the drum sounds for her new album.

But upon further review I decided to scrap the Mandy Moore cartoon and go instead with the cartoon about Joanne Shaw Taylor.

Coincidentally, Joanne Shaw Taylor performed at a bar in Kankakee, Illinois, last Tuesday.

That’s what Mandy Moore has come to: She gets bumped from a blog by an unknown British girl who gets booked in places like a Kankakee bar.

I feel I made the correct choice, but it’s kind of been bugging me all week. I mean, at least Mandy Moore is American and not British. And she used to be really sexy. And she’s still kind of pretty.

You just look at Mandy Moore, however, and you wish there was some substance, something beneath the surface, some character shaping the image.

But, you know, you look around and you wish that a lot these days.

So, in honor of Mandy Moore being so representative of the youth of America—even now that she’s into the five decades of her declining years—I’ve decided to give her this Friday post all to herself.

Here’s to you, Mandy!

The world owes you an apology, but me dedicating this Friday post to you on my blog probably is as close as you’ll ever come to hearing one.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Saying Mean Things

Earlier this month, some news feeds did stories about Taylor Swift and one of the Jonas brothers [OMJ!] writing mean songs about each other. Blah, blah blah. For instance, here: Joe Jonas Fires Back At Taylor Swift With A Song

There are whole websites dedicated to celebrities feuding. For instance, here: CelebrityFeuds.com

Hilary Duff seems to fight with everyone, but she did get in some good lines about Faye Dunaway. For instance, here: New Hilary Duff Feud

I hope the young people who follow these feuds know that this kind of thing has been going on for generations. I’m not sure they do, because from the little I have seen of the lyrics from various new feud songs, nobody seems to be making any effort to live up to the great stuff feuds have generated in the past.

My pick for the best feud song ever is Bob Dylan’s “Idiot Wind,” off one of the best albums ever, "Blood on the Tracks."

First of all, he doesn’t beat around the bush, he flat out says what he thinks:

Idiot wind
Blowing every time you move your mouth
Blowing down the backroads heading south
Idiot wind
Blowing every time you move your teeth
You're an idiot, babe
It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe

Second, he doesn’t try to tone down his bitterness, rather he indulges it:

I woke up on the roadside
Daydreaming about the way things sometimes are
Visions of your chestnut mare
Shoot through my head and are making me see stars
You hurt the ones that I love best
And cover up the truth with lies
One day you'll be in the ditch
Flies buzzing around your eyes
Blood on your saddle

But thirdly, most importantly and most cool, Dylan still manages to see something bigger in the situation and still manages to look beyond his own personal emotions and his own personal perspective to grasp that everyone loses, everyone misses out, when emotions become so heated, and ends saying:

I can't feel you anymore,
I can't even touch the books you've read
Every time I crawl past your door
I've been wishing I was somebody else instead
Down the highway, down the tracks, down the road to ecstasy
I followed you beneath the stars, hounded by your memory
And all your raging glory

I've been double-crossed now
For the very last time and now I'm finally free
I kissed goodbye the howling beast
On the borderline which separated you from me
You'll never know the hurt I suffered
Nor the pain I rise above
And I'll never know the same about you
Your holiness or your kind of love
And it makes me feel so sorry

Idiot wind
Blowing through the buttons of our coats
Blowing through the letters that we wrote
Idiot wind
Blowing through the dust upon our shelves
We're idiots, babe
It's a wonder we can even feed ourselves

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Impossible Kisses (Wisconsin)

I’ve been rained on in Wisconsin

plenty of times but it never

occurred to me to consider

rain a personification

to think of Wisconsin laying

her head against my chest crying

letting me hold her comfort her

and when it stopped rain always stops

letting me think my comfort helped

letting me kiss her I never

kissed Wisconsin I wish I’d kissed

Wisconsin every time it rained

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Girl In The Canadian Negligee

At the start of the month I wrote about the new “Anaconda” movie and what a let-down it was after the previous entry in that series and I singled out the fact that in “Anaconda 3” the filmmakers had a lot of fun with actress Crystal Allen changing from one sexy tee shirt to another but in “Anaconda 4” they put Crystal Allen in a sexy tee shirt and then covered her up in a jacket and kept her covered up for the entire film.

When I wrote that post something was nagging at me but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I was thinking of something but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Yesterday I figured out what was on my mind. And, not too surprisingly, it involves a girl in a skimpy tee shirt.

Look at this picture:

That’s actress Jaime King, the star of this year’s medium-budget horror film, “My Bloody Valentine.” That film was released on Valentine’s Day in digital 3D and it was made by a reasonably cool filmmaker named Patrick Lussier. He’s from Canada. [Maybe. Might be wrong about this... --Mark] I’ll return to that bit of Canadian trivia in a few paragraphs.

Now, everybody making “My Bloody Valentine” had fun with the production. Notice in the picture of Jaime with the shovel that the lighting is bright and the bulbs are low, she’s wearing a white tee shirt one or two sizes too small and she’s wearing a black bra under the white tee shirt. She’s about to swing that shovel at a masked psycho-killer and the movie is in digital 3D so the audience had fun with the skimpy tee shirt, too.

That scene is from near the very beginning of the movie.

Now I want to talk about the end sequences of the movie.

In the final sequences of the movie, Jaime gets chased around by the masked psycho-killer and she runs through the woods, runs through an old house in the woods and runs through those same mine shafts she ran through at the beginning of the movie.

But look at what she’s wearing for the start of those final sequences:

She’s on the phone with one of her two boyfriends who both may or may not be the masked psycho-killer and she’s wearing a flannel shirt!

A flannel shirt.


A flannel shirt?

You put the sexiest girl in the world in a flannel shirt and instantly every guy who looks at her gets the feeling that he’s on a fishing trip with his sister.

A flannel shirt?

Every now and then the wind blows open the flannel shirt and we get to see what’s underneath the flannel shirt:

Yeah, she’s wearing a sexy, skimpy brown tee shirt underneath her flannel shirt.

In “Anaconda 4” the production people put Crystal Allen in a sexy, skimpy tee shirt then covered it up with an army-surplus jacket.

In “My Bloody Valentine” the production people put Jaime King in a sexy, skimpy tee shirt then covered it up with a flannel shirt.

Is this some kind of Hollywood trend?! Is this some kind of conspiracy to frustrate movie-goers?

Here is the big climax of “My Bloody Valentine.” The masked psycho-killer has chased Jaime into the mine shaft. But she has gotten a gun and confronts her two boyfriends who both may or may not be the masked psycho-killer.

Yeah, it’s the big scene where she finds out which of her two boyfriends is the masked psycho-killer trying to kill her and we don’t get to see any sexy arms or sexy shoulders or sexy anything else because she’s still wearing the damn flannel shirt.

The flannel shirt didn’t rip off when the masked psycho-killer got his pick-axe stuck in the fabric and tore off a couple of buttons. The flannel shirt didn’t rip off when she crawled out from the car wreck. The flannel shirt didn’t rip off when she ran through the woods with all those sharp branches sticking out.

Flannel shirts. When one of them gets on a girl it’s on her to stay.

The director of “My Bloody Valentine,” Patrick Lussier, is a very skillful editor who has directed quite a few movies. He’s very good at what he does, but he is from Canada. [Maybe. Might be wrong about this... --Mark] Maybe it’s a cultural thing. It gets very cold up in Canada. Maybe up in the Great White North flannel shirts are considered sexy. Maybe Patrick Lussier and Geddy Lee sit around the pub saying, “Hey, check out the flannel shirt on that cutie!”

If this is a Canadian-content issue, if flannel shirts are like negligees up there, someone needs to tell these people that there’s more to life than Canada!

Damn it!

There aren’t any moose walking around outside my house and I don’t watch films to see women wearing more layers of clothing than the Amish ladies who sell me chocolate!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Quasi Una Fantasia Again

Prologue 1:

Warning: This post contains embarrassing content. If you can’t stomach watching a grown man make a fool out of himself, click away to some other site today.

Prologue 2:

If you do a Google search on the words: “playing guitar and singing at the same time” you will get millions of hits. It’s a big topic. That is what today’s post is about. People who always could sing and play at the same time, and people who were capable of learning to sing and play at the same time, always misunderstand the scope of the issue. For some people singing and playing at the same time represents a kind of cosmic psycho-drama, a neural battle of brain cramps and synaptic spasms that leaves them one step short of having their head explode. It’s not an issue of trying harder or learning techniques or more-more-more practice. Some people just have vast troubles doing it. Eric Clapton—remember: God!—cannot play lead guitar and sing “Layla” at the same time. Frank Zappa—possibly in real life a “better” guitarist than Clapton—couldn’t play and sing at the same time; that’s why his vocals are usually just chat/rap vocals.

Quasi Una Fantasia Again

Last month I posted about the phrase Quasi Una Fantasia—the musical direction to perform a piece with an other-worldly effect, freely, like a fantasy. What I didn’t mention back then is that for me, very idiosyncratically, I have come to use the phrase to differentiate between music that is quantized and music that is played to an internal rhythm.

A hundred years ago there was debate about simple external quantization—the use of metronomes. At Wikipedia’s page for metronomes people like Beethoven and Liszt and others are quoted with their concerns that metronomes might not be such cool things.

Today, of course, the situation is monstrously and bizarrely exaggerated. In the professional world, not only are musicians expected to play to a click-track, but even if the musician managed to inject slight anticipation or delay into his rhythm it doesn’t matter because computer signal processing software will automatically sort out the beat of the musician’s playing and re-work the pulse to put it any place the producer may want it temporally. When computer processors run at many gigahertz and software is skillfully written, there is almost nothing that can’t be done in terms of editing a digitized audio signal.

And, of course too, beyond just quantization of rhythm, of the pulse in time, nowadays Auto-Tune software and other packages can do the same thing to the complete sonic envelope of a performance, quantizing the pitch and any other aspect of a performance.

Music has become Frankenstein music.

But the deeper philosophy of all this is kind of lost on me because I personally have never gotten past the simple metronome question. I have great difficulty quantizing my own playing to an external beat. And I have endless fucking difficulties—excuse the language but it’s from my heart—even syncing-up my own brain to my own body in playing-and-singing performances.

Today I’m going to prove it by posting three performances of the same content. To save time and bandwidth I’m going to perform, three separate times, just one verse of one of the songs I posted lyrics from yesterday. I’m going to take three tries at the first verse of the pop/jazz classic, “Deep Purple.”

First I’m going to do a singing-and-playing-at-the-same-time version. To even get this done I am wildly altering the way I play the song. Instead of playing the song, I will be chording the song, hitting just one chord per measure and just on the one beat. Hitting the ones is the simplest way to get through a song and I can almost do it and sing at the same time. I can’t really even sing and hit the ones at the same time as you’ll see in the video, but I can almost do it, and this is me trying as hard as I can after practicing, literally, for years.

Then I’ll do a version of me playing the song to a click-track.

Then I’ll do a version of me playing the song freely without a click-track.

Although I’ve often practiced with and without a click-track, and of course I’ve often tried to sing and play at the same time, I’ve never captured the efforts on video to observe and study and see if observing myself makes any difference in my future efforts.

As you’ll see, it would be difficult for things to get worse, so I’m not worried about having a negative effect on my music.

As I look at these, right now, so soon after having made them, nothing really jumps out at me. The click-track version doesn’t look/sound as different from the free version as I’d expected. The singing-and-playing version looks about as awful as it felt and you wouldn’t believe how many takes it required just to get this version. I’m looking forward to letting some time pass and then coming back and checking out these three videos after still more practicing and after I’ve separated myself from the performance-memory of making them.

Maybe I will do this kind of thing every few months with a different song. Maybe over, say, a year of trying to get better at this and dealing with the pain of embarrassing myself publically my subconscious finally will start doing some re-wiring of my brain or something and let me get better at this!

Singing-and-playing-at-the-same-time version. Hitting the ones. (Even though I have trouble hitting the ones here, if you listen closely to the click-track, you will hear that the Tascam GT-R1, which is providing both the amp emulation and the rhythm track, is giving me a cool click-track that is one-two-three-four so I can’t really get lost. But I still come close to getting lost!)

Click-track version. (And just to get through this I used a click-track that is just clicks, no pulse at all. And there were moments when I was playing this when my playing mind somehow just separated itself from my listening mind that was hearing the clicks so the “syncing” kind of comes and goes. It’s a mystery to me why my brain and body go to war over this.)

Playing freely version. (I did this version last and I strongly suspect I should have done this version first. By this point even though the earlier two versions only took about fifty seconds each I felt like I had just lived through a dental appointment with my guitar in my lap because the two earlier versions required so many ‘takes’ to get even reasonably correct clips. This was supposed to be the “freely” played version but by this point I was kind of too numbed to really play freely. But it certainly is more relaxed than the previous two versions.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ghosts Are Us

When the deep purple falls

Over sleepy garden walls

And stars start to sparkle in the sky

In the mist of memory

You come drifting back to me

Breathing my name in a sigh

Deep Purple

* * *

Now we know neurologically that there can be a spread of excitation from one point of the cortex to adjacent points. Thus it becomes likely that a buildup of excitation in those areas on the right hemisphere serving instrumental music should spread to those adjacent serving divine auditory hallucinations—or vice versa. And hence this close relationship between instrumental music and poetry, and both with the voices of gods. I am suggesting here that the invention of music may have been as a neural excitant to the hallucinations of gods for decision-making in the absence of consciousness.

It is thus no idle happenstance of history that the very name of music comes from the sacred goddesses called Muses. For music too begins in the bicameral mind.

We thus have some ground for saying that the use of the lyre among early poets was to spread excitation to the divine speech area, the posterior part of the right temporal lobe, from immediately adjacent areas. So also the function of flutes that accompanied the lyric and elegiac poets of the eighth and seventh centuries B.C. And when such musical accompaniment is no longer used, as it is not in later Greek poetry, it is, I suggest, because the poem is no longer being sung from the right hemisphere where such spreading excitation would help. It is instead being recited from left hemispheric memory alone, rather than being recreated in the true prophetic trance.

This change in musical accompaniment is also reflected in the way poetry is referred to, although a large amount of historical overlap makes the case not quite so clear. But more early poetry is referred to as song (as in the Iliad and the Theogony, for example), while later poetry is often referred to as spoken or told. This change perhaps corresponds roughly to the change from the aoidoi with their lyres to the rhapsodes with their rhapdoi (light sticks, perhaps to beat the meter) that took place perhaps in the eighth or seventh centuries B.C. And behind these particulars is the more profound psychological change from bicameral composition to conscious recitation, and from oral to written remembering. In much later poetry, however, the poet as singer and his poem as song are brought back metaphorically as conscious archaism, yielding its own authorization to the now conscious poet.

. . . A vocabulary, some syntax, and a few rules of lexical fit and measure can be punched into a computer, which can then proceed to write quite ‘inspired’ if surrealist verse. But that is simply a copy of what we, with two cerebral hemispheres and nervous systems, already do. Computers or men can indeed write poetry without any vestigial bicameral inspiration. But when they do, they are imitating an older and truer poesy out there in history. Poetry, once started in mankind, needs not the same means for its production. It began as the divine speech of the bicameral mind. And even today, through its infinite mimeses, great poetry to the listener, however it is made, still retains that quality of the wholly other, of a diction and a message, a consolation and an inspiration, that was once our relationship to gods.

Julian Jaynes

toward the end of chapter three,
‘Vestiges of the Bicameral Mind in
the Modern World,’ from the book,

“The Origin of Consciousness
in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind”

* * *

It’s far beyond a star

It’s near beyond the moon

I know beyond a doubt

My heart will lead me there soon

We’ll meet beyond the shore

We’ll kiss just as before

Happy we’ll be beyond the sea

And never again will I go sailing

Beyond the Sea

That Space Age Archaic Glow

The Mythologies Of Facts

“Consciousness Not Necessary For Thinking”

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I’m Sorry The World Did This To You

Does the world owe an apology
to Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus?

Does the world owe an apology
to Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears?

Does the world owe an apology
to the millions of un-named young girls—
girls with names but no Disney contract—
who have been laid across the anvil
and hammered into glamorous shapes?

Does the world owe an apology
to the girl who only combs her hair
twice a day and then tells everyone
twice a day is enough work for her?

Does the world owe an apology
to the girl who wonders why the fuck
the world should apologize to her?

I’m sorry the world did this to you.

I’m sorry the world gave you the chance
to be this, that, the other thing but
never gave you the chance just to be.

If I were a Disney prince singing
these words all Auto-Tuned and quantized
I’d sing with the voice of John Lennon
and I’d repeat that part that the world
never gave you the chance just to be.

And I’d give a good John Lennon scream
then fade to a coda repeating,
I’m sorry the world did this to you.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Dead Movie Store Epilogue

This post is a loose end and this is the last loose end I’m going to tie up for a while. I’m tiring myself out looking for unfinished business in the past. I want to get on with things and try to concentrate on moving this project forward.

But last year I did two posts about the neighborhood video store closing and since those linked to a bunch of other posts, this one last loose end has been nagging at me.

Okay. I posted that just before the video store closed its doors for the last time I bought two old horror films, one about a monster snake and one about death having a grand design. The day that I bought those two DVDs I also spent quite a bit of time talking to the store’s manager. We talked about what business issues were forcing the store to close. I assumed it was competition with the internet, downloading movies and NetFlix. But she told me the internet wasn’t the biggest problem for her.

“It’s those damn Redbox machines,” she said. “They’re everywhere. And they rent movies for a dollar. I just can’t compete with that.”

At the time I didn’t know much about Redbox and it shocked me that what I had thought of as simple, silly vending machines outside grocery stores were having such an impact on the movie rental business. In fact I knew so little about Redbox that I didn’t even mention it in my post last year because I wasn’t sure I could even believe the store manager that the machines could wreck her business.

I’d always assumed the Redbox vending machines only rented a few movies and it would be complicated using a cash card with a machine.

Well, I didn’t know beans and what I thought I knew was all wrong.

The Redbox machines are great! They’re easy to use, contain dozens and dozens of different DVDs and I can’t imagine any video store competing with dollar rentals from the vending machines.

About a week ago I walked past a Redbox machine outside a Walgreens and I noticed the machine contained an obscure ghost movie I was thinking of talking about for my ghost post. [That Space Age Archaic Glow]

[A lot got cut from that post. I was going to talk about (the saddest book in the world) a great ghost story called, “The Summer of Katya,” and an odd British ghost film/crime story called, “Dark Secrets.” But they were both too depressing and I couldn’t get up any energy to even mention them. I may get back to them, I may not. If I do it won’t be for a while because now I’m too tired of these loose ends.]

So I saw this obscure movie in the Redbox machine and I decided to find out how the machines work because I’ve always remembered how the manager of the neighborhood video rental store had blamed Redbox for making her close her business.

It turns out you can go online at the Redbox site and type in your zip code. The Redbox software will automagically pick out the vending machines nearest to you. You can select the inventory for the particular machine you’re interested in. You create an account with just an e-mail address and a password and enter a cash card number like any other net transaction. You pick out a title from the machine’s inventory and that’s it! The software reserves the DVD for you and you just walk over, swipe your card and the machine “vends” out your DVD in a plastic case. After you watch the DVD you go back to the machine, touch the screen and then stick the DVD in its case back into the same slot it came out.

No problems. No deadhead store staff to deal with. No store lines to wait in. And instead of paying $4.95—that’s what the corporate store near where I’m living charges—the Redbox machine only charges a dollar.

I’ve rented four times from Redbox now and I can’t imagine going back to a regular video store.

Hassle-free satisfaction for a buck. I don’t see how any old-style business can compete with that.

So, death the monster snake did eat the neighborhood video store where I used to live. But it was one of those evolution-in-action things where nature was just clearing away the badly adapted old generation to make way for the cool, thriving new generation. Sometimes death does have a grand design.

I’m glad evolution hasn’t pointed the monster snake at me yet!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Year Winds Down #2: Buying Junk

Dead Butterfly Flapping

My Two Favorite Monster Snake Movies

The Sexy Herpetologist Returns! (Sans Sexy)

Monster Snakes And Sexy Tee Shirts

Meanwhile, In An Abandoned Strip Mine...

Monday, June 08, 2009

LeAnn Is Misty Too Much In Love

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Let me take a moment to give thanks
to the Moon and Planets and Stars
that LeAnn is
some other guy’s problem
and not mine. Although with my luck
in about two years I will be dating her
and then she’ll be my problem after all.

But in the meanwhile let me celebrate
she’s not my problem right now.
I will plug in, dial up a slow tempo
on the click track and—yes, I’ll do it—
I will play
“Misty” for her.

Friday, June 05, 2009

I Understand, But Then There’s Tal Wilkenfeld

Tal Wilkenfeld is an Australian girl who was born in 1986.

She dropped out of high school when she was sixteen, thinking, “It just wasn’t going to work for me.”

She came to America and settled in New York.

Her Wikipedia page [yes, she has a Wikipedia page] outlines some of this high school drop-out’s life since coming to New York.

Here are highlights:

In 2006, Wilkenfeld performed as a guest with the Allman Brothers Band, and recorded her debut solo album, Transformation, which was recorded over a period of two days when she was just 20 years old. Wilkenfeld composed, produced, arranged, and played bass on seven intricate tunes with Wayne Krantz, Geoffrey Keezer, saxophonist Seamus Blake, and Keith Carlock. Transformation has been released in Australia and Japan, in addition to the United States and Australia, and remains a steady import in other territories.

Aware that Chick Corea was seeking a bass player for an upcoming tour, Wilkenfeld sent him demos of Transformation. She was elated to be selected to accompany him on his Australian tour early 2007, along with Frank Gambale and Antonio Sanchez. A few months later she joined up with Jeff Beck, Vinnie Colaiuta, and Jason Rebello for Beck's summer European tour. After returning from Europe, the group completed their tour at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival in Chicago, Illinois, performing to a sell-out crowd of approximately 40,000. By November 2007, Wilkenfeld rejoined Beck's band for a week of gigs at Ronnie Scott's jazz club in London, where the band was joined on stage by Eric Clapton and Joss Stone. ... On the same trip to England, Wilkenfeld joined Herbie Hancock on a session with fellow jazz icon Wayne Shorter, which was filmed for the A&E series Live from Abbey Road. Singer Corinne Bailey Rae, and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta were also featured on this session. Wilkenfeld wrapped up 2007 via a pair of standing-room-only Greenwich Village gigs with Wayne Krantz.

In 2008, Wilkenfeld accompanied Krantz on gigs in Los Angeles, and then embarked on a tour of Australia in the fall of 2008, with Wayne and Keith Carlock-a reunion of the core band who appeared on "Transformation." At the conclusion of the tour, Wayne and Keith, along with John Beasley, backed Wilkenfeld during her headlining set for Bass Player Live 2008 in Los Angeles. Elsewhere in July 2008, Wilkenfeld accompanied Jeff Beck at the Grammy's Tribute to George Martin concert in Los Angeles. She also appeared at Warren Haynes's 20th Annual Christmas Jam, reuniting with the Allman Brothers Band, and also guesting with Gov't Mule, Ivan Neville, and Robben Ford.

2009 started off with a tour of Australia and Japan with Jeff Beck, and weeks later, a tour of the United States, which began with a performance at Beck's 2009 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There, they played "Beck's Bolero", and were joined by Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page on "Immigrant Song." In the few weeks break between touring Japan and America, she appeared as the very first special guest to sit in with The Roots on the Jimmy Fallon show.

Wilkenfeld has also performed with such notable musicians as Hiram Bullock, Susan Tedeschi, Rod Stewart, John Mayer, Ron Holloway, and Prince.

from Tal Wilkenfeld’s Wikipedia page

Here is a YouTube clip of Tal Wilkenfeld performing with Jeff Beck, a very cool guitarist, born circa 1944.

Tal Wilkenfeld at MySpace

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Sexy Herpetologist Returns! (Sans Sexy)

Last October I talked about a fun monster snake movie in “Monster Snakes And Sexy Tee Shirts.” That was part three of the Anaconda saga, “Anaconda 3: Offspring.”

The best part of that movie was actress Crystal Allen, who played a sexy herpetologist named Amanda and who spent most of the movie in very sexy skimpy tee shirts. The whole movie seemed to be built around costume design as Amanda changed from one sexy tee shirt to another as the plot advanced.

Well Crystal Allen is back as Amanda the sexy herpetologist in “Anacondas: Trail of Blood.”

And the DVD cover sure looks promising, featuring Amanda running in her classic herpetologist uniform, a skimpy black tee shirt.

Sadly, the DVD cover art is the best thing about this awful film.

None of the low budget fun of “Anaconda 3” is re-captured in this low budget yawn fest. And Amanda doesn’t change clothes even once. In fact, I don’t think she ever even takes off her jacket.

Instead of the simple let’s-kill-the-monster-snake plot of “Anaconda 3” this movie drags out a goofy hodge-podge of story arcs: There is a scientist with a monster snake and a secret potion that will cure sick billionaires of whatever ails them. There is a team of assassins looking to kill the scientist and steal his secret potion. There is another group of people I never quite sorted out, I think they are supposed to be archeologists who just happen to be working near the scientist and his monster snake. There is Amanda the sexy herpetologist and a couple of friends who are looking for the scientist so they can destroy his monster snake. And there is an odd, lost looking hapless guy wandering around by himself who I think is supposed to be working with Amanda, but I never really got him sorted out either.

Little by little everybody more or less randomly bumps into everybody else and eventually the assassins try to force Amanda to track down the scientist and steal his secret potion for them. The assassins kill a couple of the random people who might be archeologists and then threaten to kill the lost looking hapless guy. So Amanda tracks down the scientist—the scientist, in fact, was eaten by his own monster snake at the very start of the film—finds his secret potion and brings it back to the assassins.

Then various people start double-crossing other people and the monster snake eats people and there are endless scenes of people running through the woods.

Inexplicably, Amanda stays fully dressed throughout the whole movie!

Even though now and then we see she is wearing a skimpy black tee shirt under her army-surplus type jacket, she keeps her jacket on for every scene.

As people say these days: WTF?!

So, sadly again, if you’re looking for some sexy herpetologist skimpiness, avoid “Anacondas: Trail of Blood.”

For sexy herpetologist skimpiness, the brand leader remains “Anaconda 3: Offspring.”

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Hidden Meaning In New Testament Apocrypha

In one of the apocryphal books of the New Testament, Jesus takes Mary Magdalene into the Messiah Cave and shows her the fancy computer He uses to fight crime all over the world. He kisses her, but it is kind of a gimmicky plot point because before He lets her leave the Messiah Cave He uses His Messiah powers to erase her memory of the visit. So He kisses her and He remembers it but she doesn’t remember the kiss at all. Manipulative plot points like that are why most scholars don’t group this particular bit of apocrypha with the canonical Gospels.

In another of the apocryphal books of the New Testament, Jesus and Mary Magdalene have a big fight and Jesus shouts at Mary and storms off in a rage and refuses to talk to her for weeks. Careful study of the actual Greek words used reveals that the anger of Jesus is really directed inward toward Himself and not outward at Mary. In this apocryphal book Jesus is always forgetting that although He can see into Mary’s heart and knows there is only love for Him there, she cannot see into His heart but rather must take on faith that He has only love for her. Jesus is always getting pissed off at Himself for getting distracted by Mary’s sexiness and forgetting that although Mary is very cool she still doesn’t have His Messiah powers. One scholar, commenting on the angst throughout this apocryphal text, points out that although there is no baptismal scene present, it would be fitting if John baptized this Jesus in a tributary of Dawson’s Creek.

My favorite apocryphal book of the New Testament is the one where Mary Magdalene and the other women discover that Jesus has been resurrected because they find the stone moved from outside His tomb and then they discover that He has put up a new post on His blog and only He has the password for that account . . .

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Metaphysics And Apple’s iTunes Store

It’s kind of cool when you notice
you get one hundred and fifty
hits at the Apple iTunes store
when you search for the song “Misty.”

It’s tempting to believe jazz rules
based on that number of covers
(although not all hits are covers).

But if you look around a bit
you see that exact same number
of hits for the song “Proud Mary”
(again not all hits are covers).

That’s not to say jazz doesn’t rule.

But it is to say, I suspect,
we can’t use Apple’s iTunes store
to sort out our metaphysics.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Misty” and “Proud Mary” trivia:

The music for “Misty” was written
by jazz piano player Erroll Garner.

He thought of the song on a plane
and since he couldn’t read or write
music [!] he hummed the tune
to himself until he got home
and could play it on piano to
record or have someone transcribe.

“Proud Mary” was written
by John Fogerty and contains
a famous mondegreen.

The second verse opens with:

Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis,
Pumped a lot of pain down in New Orleans

Tina Turner sang ‘tane’ instead of ‘pain,’
thinking he meant pumping gasoline,
thinking he said ‘tane,’ slang for ‘octane.’

After her cover, Fogerty himself
would sometimes sing ‘tane.’


11:00 AM Update


In fact the number “150” means nothing at all at the Apple iTunes store.

That is simply the largest number of results their browser displays at any given time. All popular songs easily get more than 150 hits and fill that first browser page.

There is a little button at the bottom right to display more results when the browser fills up.

That’s embarrassing.

But in the spirit of blogging being spontaneous and all that, I’m going to leave this page up.

A red faced howler.

Monday, June 01, 2009

That Space Age Archaic Glow

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

In the old days, if a post
reminded me of a song,
if a post had a soundtrack,
I had to just put up the lyrics
and trust that people
would remember the tune.

Not any more!

Now I can perform
the lyrics, the soundtrack.

Buckle up,
because I enjoy this.